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review 2018-07-18 02:58
So much hidden meaning
The Intuitionist - Colson Whitehead

The Intuitionist by Colson Whitehead is included in the list of 100 titles chosen by American citizens for The Great American Read hosted by PBS. (More info on the books on the list and how you can vote for America's favorite novel can be found here.) In an effort to read more diversely (and to have the ability to recommend books for the adults in my branch) I started with this book as I had never heard of it despite it being listed as a 'classic'. The story follows Lila Mae Watson who is the first female person of color to be an Elevator Inspector. In the world created by Whitehead elevators are the height (ha!) of technology and the majority of the population see them as somewhat mystical and beyond the realm of ordinary comprehension. (There are even guilds which seek to elevate the status of Elevator Inspectors in society to those in political office.) Even more confusing to discern are the two distinct sects of theory as to the maintenance and future of these machines. One school of thought is firmly rooted in the reality of the technology while the other views them as metaphysical creations that can be 'sensed'. Lila Mae belongs to the second school of thought which further compounds the problems that she faces among her coworkers and the public that she encounters on her daily rotations. This sci-fi novel is rooted in the reality of race. What drives the story are the veiled discussions of race but it is told through the lens of technology innovations. It is ultimately a story of hope for a better world where we are 'elevated' from the weaknesses and barbarisms of our current reality. Whitehead challenges our perceptions of our accepted reality as he argues that established views are not solely based on what we see with our eyes. This is a book with a seemingly simple premise about elevator manufacture and maintenance in a world so very similar (and familiar) to our own but instead what we get is a complex discussion of race and how we can (hopefully) rise above. 9/10

 

What's Up Next: The Read-Aloud Handbook (7th Edition) by Jim Trelease

 

What I'm Currently Reading: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

 

Source: readingfortheheckofit.blogspot.com
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text 2018-07-06 07:09
Aerobics Workout For Weight Loss

Aerobics Classes & Workouts - FITPASS

 

High impact exercise is the most energizing, appealing and pleasurable type of exercise and subsequently, it turns into the most prevalent type of activity around the world. It is broadly acknowledged, as it is astounding for the heart and general blood course of your body.

 

It's imperative to pick the best Aerobic classes, on the off chance that you need to get a solid and fit body through legitimate schedules. Vigorous aerobic exercise has the ability to keep you fit and solid stamina alongside your inclination. It upgrades your general wellbeing. It will keep your lungs, heart, circulatory and resistance framework sound and fit. It encourages you to unwind at a superior rate.

 

Advantages Of Aerobics

 

High-impact aerobic exercises help shape, stretch, sweat, and tone your harried zones. Consequently, Aerobic exercise grows long, slender muscles without building and shapes your body as an artist.

 

Conditioning your body doesn't imply that you should spend additional hours at the exercise centre or complete many push-ups. Oxygen consuming exercises generally consume around 510-620 calories for every hour. Regardless of whether you are doing Aerobics or wellness exercise, It will keep you moving and perspiring by consuming your calories for the whole span of your class.

 

Regular practicing the aerobics exercise you will have the capacity to condition your body while having a ton of fun in the meantime. It doesn't make a difference in case you're an amateur, take after aerobics and go ahead!

Source: fitpass.co.in/delhi-ncr/aerobics-and-cardio-classes
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review 2018-06-06 08:18
There There by Tommy Orange - Urban Indians and lost connections
There There - Tommy Orange

If this is what Tommy Orange writes for his debut, we have a major talent writing right now. My copy of There There arrived today. It's nearly 3 AM, and I just finished. No food, no sleep; I couldn't put this book down.

"This there there. He hadn’t read Gertrude Stein beyond the quote. But for Native people in this country, all over the Americas, it’s been developed over, buried ancestral land, glass and concrete and wire and steel, unreturnable covered memory. There is no there there."


That title gathers more meaning with every character, chapter and section. By the end the weight of not knowing exactly who you are or where you come from is a heavy weight even for a reader. All the characters have different experiences and difficulties, but they are all in search of connection to their own community, and none seem sure they belong to that community or if that community will allow them to belong to it. What is the character with an advanced degree in Native American Studies to do when he can't find a job? What about someone born with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome who wears his face as a constant reminder? What about native peoples who have to learn all of their heritage and how to practice it from YouTube or Google searches? Beyond poverty, unemployment, far too much alcoholism, there is death, devastation and a lot of shame in these characters. While they don't rise above in Hollywood ways, getting through the day - learning and growing and putting one foot in front of the other - while continuing to strive for that connection is pretty triumphant. 

The characters are fully realized. We know why they do what they do, and we get a sense of how they feel about their current and past selves. It takes a minute but we understand their connections to each other better than they do by the end of the novel. We also get a sense of how these people came to be so broken from the proud nations that the Americas have systematically wiped out. What is most clear is that the bloodbath that came to America with the first settlers has left a never-ending trail of trauma. And in case we might miss it from just the stories, there's one of the best essays -- seemingly well-researched and certainly well-written that pulls no punches right in the beginning of the novel. While the characters don't escape unscathed, neither will a reader. In writing this so openly and leaving the sharp edges intact, Mr. Orange has held a mirror up to the Americas - whether the reader is indigenous or not.

There are many major characters in this novel, all in various stages of heading to the Oakland Powwow. While some have visited a Reservation, they are mostly urban or suburban and none seem fully connected to their native culture. This isn't a reservation story or a historical account. These indigenous people live in the here and now, in the cities (mostly Oakland) and do all of the things everyone else in the city does, including riding the subway and not dressing up (except maybe on the day of the Powwow.) At first they don't seem to be related, but as the chapters and parts of the book move along, their connections become clear and that broke my heart even more. Missed connections, searching out parents or grandchildren you've never known, searching for yourself - all of these are explored and there are no pat answers. In fact, the book ends on one of the most wistful non-answers in recent memory. I love a book that refuses to put a pretty bow on top, and had Mr. Orange packaged the ending that way, everything that came before would have been cheapened.

What you get here is a journey, good stories, interesting characters, but no perfect answers. How could there be perfect answers to such a long history of carnage and stolen identity?

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review 2018-06-06 03:14
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier -- Look out Jung & Freud. Du Maurier does it better.
Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier,Sally Beauman

I've never read this before, nor have I seen the movie. Not sure how I missed the film, but I did. I was shocked at all the psychological twisty, rather deep and dark Freudian/Jungian stuff found in this novel. I mean, I knew it was a classic and sort of an intertext-something (I really should take a class on how to read a novel) to Jane Eyre, but I'm almost shocked at how affecting this novel was for me..

 

Oddly this is the second book in a row that seems to be a callback or response to another classic novel. I just finished a 2017 "response" (I'd call it) to the Great Gatsby (No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts), and today I read Rebecca which is certainly a fierce response or some better word to Jane Eyre. Both novels stand very firmly on their own. They didn't need the other books, but it's incredibly interesting to see how they respond to some of the material in the earlier classics. If I have the time, someday, I'm going to take a class on how to explain myself better about books. Back to Rebecca...

 

Normally a simpering woman who is dying for a man to just sweep her away from it all (no matter when it was written) would turn me off. The fact that she's afraid to trouble him or speak up to him makes sense, but also made me very sad for her at first. The genius is though I kept thinking "pack it up. Leave him," I felt connected to the nameless narrator through the novel as if I was the one in her position. I felt stuck. I felt nervous. I cringed along with her. I found my pulse quickening every time Mrs. Danvers came near. I was scared - literally scared while reading this in the middle of the day.

 

The dreams that begin and end the book are stunning in the way they set the mood and tell the truth when our narrator can't seem to tell herself the truth. Her daydreams are full of fanciful, childish nattering, but the dreams are the real thing. The juxtaposition of the truth in her dreams v the silliness of her daydreams is very telling and full of foreboding. Du Maurier writes very melodramatic plot without ever tipping into sentimental or soggy language so well that it's almost easy to miss how melodramatic the plot actually is. She's also a master of class and all those games people play, which is a callback to Jane Eyre, but so much of this is in the narrator's fearful mind that it's wildly different from the actual scenes in Jane Eyre. 

 

I also think the nameless narrator is a perfect way to add one more layer of her personality -- added to her hair, the way she dresses, all of her hiding, acquiescing, nail biting, her class and the way they met -- this is a well-built and very believable character. The daydreaming tops it off for me. She can't deal with her life and shunts all of her wishes and fears into fantasy.

 

One more thought is that these women - the two Mrs. de Winters - are like two sides of the same person, and in the end de Winter manages to kill them both (and they're both willing to let him.) Sure, the narrator is technically still alive, but it's just a slower/different form of death. There's a lot to say about that from the world of psychobabble, but I'll spare us all.

 

My final thought was "did Sylvia Plath love this novel?" I don't know, but in her late (mostly Ariel-era) poems, there's a lot  that has the feel (and some of the imagery) of this novel. I tried to do a quick search, but all I learned is that Agatha Christie wrote to du Maurier about the nameless narrator.

 

Anyway, I loved it. It moved me. I'm not sure what I learned but if I'd gotten a degree in psychoanalysis, I would have wanted to use this as some part of my dissertation: especially in the responses of women to the women in the novel. 

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review 2018-06-04 15:08
Rereading Junot Díaz in light of recent events - the cycle of abuse harms us all
This Is How You Lose Her - Junot Díaz

Men may feel they get the upper hand by treating women poorly, but long before "me too" Yunior told us otherwise in these stories and in the novel.

 

Reread these after recent revelations by both Junot Díaz & women who were victimized by him. I was interested to see how this would affect the reading.

 

If you've missed the fireworks, a quick rundown:

  1. Junot Díaz publishes a personal essay in the New Yorker (The Silence: The Legacy of Childhood Trauma) revealing that he was the victim of repeated childhood sexual abuse by a man in his neighborhood, that he's paid dearly for it, can no longer write and has mistreated women tremendously while trying to hide behind a mask of machismo.
  2. Fairly quickly he is confronted by a number of women, notably women of color, other writers of sexual misconduct and verbal abuse.
  3. He decides (with the full blessing of the committee) not to take his place as Chair of the Pulitzer committee.
  4. Bookstores decide to remove his books from the shelves, others keep him on, nobody knows what the right thing to do is, and everyone picks a side.

 

All of this led to discussions - hell, thousands of discussions - around me, with women, with other survivors, with everyone but writers. I don't know any writers or I'm sure they'd have talked to me too. EVERYONE in the trauma community was afire with this discussion. Eventually some of us got around to his writing, and my response was that I hoped I'd still be able to read it, since I really have been a fan, and it made me sad to read in the NYer that he could no longer write. Then I grabbed these short stories off my shelf and read them. This is where I landed:

 

I loved these the first time I read them. I was just as uncomfortable with the over-flexing of what we now call toxic masculinity then as I was this time. In fact, I think my reaction was pretty much the same: the narrator's toxicity harms him and everyone else in his life, including his great love - but in the end, he's hurt himself badly (some great female writer might want to take the feminine perspective someday.) If only we could get people in real life to own up to how harmful toxic masculinity actually is for everyone.

 

The character in these stories is clear on how he's harmed himself, and while he may use bravado to try and mask his torment, it clearly doesn't work. Everything, including his body, breaks down.

 

Explanations are not Excuses. 

 

This is not to say that these fictional stories should be taken as an indicator of real life, but misogyny is a problem for everyone, and the pain in the voice of these stories spells that out. In fact, I think these stories might be used as an example of how badly misogynistic bullshit works out for everyone. Men may feel they get the upper hand by treating women poorly, but long before "me too" Yunior told us otherwise in these stories and in the novel.

 

As a person who has lived through some stuff, I'm glad to have read these stories the first time and again now. They are excellent, and the message is probably more clear now than it was the first time I read it, though my history hasn't changed at all. I still react badly to the mind games, abuses of power and name calling, AND I appreciate the stories. They have a moral dimension I now see even more clearly, and it's about far more than diversity or a "unique voice." Yunor spells out how harmful his misogynistic buddies and lifestyle are to both the women and the men in his life.

 

Sexual abuse begets pain, anger, confusion, acting out and abuse - sometimes even more sexual abuse. The issue is not on whose side will we fight - we should all be on the side of protecting children and getting everyone (including rapists and child molestors) help before this cycle begins in yet another person. Otherwise we are doomed to an assembly line of horrors. I'd bet that if you spoke to the man who abused Junot Díaz, he'd probably have some horror tales to share about his life. None of this excuses anyone. It does show how harmful it all is for everyone, be it the abused person, the perpetrator or the many people who have relationships with either of them through lifetimes. Abuse is poison. It harms souls. It murders a part of us that we can never regain.

 

When we have no tools for coping with this existential terroristic threat, we often cope in tremendously harmful ways - both to ourselves and those we love. Interpersonal relationships are forever changed, and we're all the victim - everyone in society.

 

This is why "rape culture" and "toxic masculinity" must end. It's killing as many men as it is women. It's a way of acting out, and it's unacceptable, if understandable. It will reach us all eventually, and nobody comes through unscathed.

 

As for the stories, the final line "sometimes a start is all we ever get" rings just as poignantly as it did before I knew so much about Junot Díaz.

 

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